A Christmas Carol appears most commonly as a novella in five parts, though sometimes it is reformatted into a play. It blends many genres, including elements of Gothic literature, ghost stories, and Christmas tales. Scrooge fits the Gothic patriarch trope because he displays tyrannical behavior at the story's beginning. His stiff gait and "grating voice" combine to create a harsh and forbidding appearance; his haggardness places him in opposition to his more welcoming surroundings and fellow community members. The spirits transcend the laws of nature and defy the normal physical world. They also show how Scrooge will be trapped by his own greediness in a bleak and lonely future—all quintessential Gothic elements.
The most remarkable characters in the story are the spirits themselves; they transform the narrative into a ghost story. Dickens places great emphasis on his ghostly descriptions, the first and last of which prove to be terrifying. Marley's ghost appears in the first stave, chillingly transparent and wrapped in chains:
The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His body was transparent: so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind.
By contrast, the story ends with a charming Christmas scene. Scrooge awakens with a spring in his step and a complete change of heart. In this way, the Gothic and ghostly modes fade out in light of Scrooge's newfound joy and generosity. This dramatic shift allows A Christmas Carol to defy categorization and magnifies Scrooge's psychological transformation. The blend of genres also functions to create a nostalgic narrative with wide appeal.